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Audio Creation

Tips on How to Use Music in Your Podcast From Paris Podcast Festival

Music enhances our emotions and is able to shift our perception to meet our goals. So why not harness that power in a podcast as well?


The power of music

A movie would not be the same without the music, especially a scary one. If you feel frightened just lower the volume and all the fear will go away. That’s the importance of music.

Music adds a layer of emotion that no other art can mimic. It helps the audience get hooked on content that might otherwise go unnoticed. A recent study in Germany found that music significantly influences how movie viewers judge the emotions in a character’s face. Faces are rated happier when scenes are accompanied by happy music while sad music portrays these same faces as less happy. Not only does music enhance our emotions but it is able to shift our perception to meet our goals.

So why not harness that power in a podcast as well? The 5th edition of this year’s Paris Podcast Festival had a special section for this topic with a crowd eager to learn how to include music in their show. Our team at Rumble Studio attended this talk and here’s what we learned.

Music’s role in podcasting

Having music on your show can either make it thrive or break it.

Especially the music you choose for the intro. If you choose the wrong one, you will create rejection in your audience from the very start and drive them away.

Music helps you induce a certain mood in your listeners and predispose them to listen to your content in a specific way. For instance, if your podcast is about the wonders of the universe where you describe the realities travelers might encounter in their future voyages but you add a comical piece of music (like Michelini’s “Frolic” song, also known as the main theme from the show “Curb Your Enthusiasm”), you will lead the audience to think it’s a satire or at least that the topics discussed will be funny and light-hearted.  

But if you choose serious and dramatic background music (like Zimmer’s main theme from Interstellar “S.T.A.Y”), people might expect an educational and well-researched description of planets and how to survive in their habitats.

In some formats like documentaries, fiction, and educational podcasts, music is as important as the voice. It helps the show flow smoother, reinforces certain content, and creates an ambiance that easily carries the audience’s attention until the end of the episode.

In a more interview-like episode, background music during the conversation might have the opposite effect. It might distract them from the content and disengage them from what would otherwise be an entertaining and informative conversation.

This begs the question of what you should and don’t do when it comes to using music in your podcast.

Tips on taking your podcast to the next level with music

Music can be featured in many ways in your podcast and the following guidelines can help you integrate the right musical element at the right moment to meet your goals.

Here’s what we learned in Théo Boulenger’s masterclass at the festival called “Composer une musique originale” in addition to some of our own insights:

  • Identify the music’s purpose in your episode: there can be different musical elements in a single episode like intro/outro music, several background music tracks, a sound logo, or even sound effects throughout the content. Each element should have a clear goal in mind. For instance, you might use the same background music in different episodes to separate sections or create transitions in your podcast so that listeners immediately know that there’s been a shift in tone or content signaled by the music.
  • Prefer having custom-made music: whenever your budget allows it try to include original music for at least the intro to your show. Over time, the music will enhance your brand and it will not only make it easier to identify your show rapidly but make it more memorable to the audience. Become important in your listener’s minds.
  • Use public domain music: when you can’t afford original music and don’t want to enter into legal fights over copyrighted music, you can always find music that can be used freely. For instance, Pixabay has a public-domain music database you can use free of charge and under legal constraints. Be aware that royalty-free music is not free-to-use music. It only means that you pay a one-time fee in exchange for the right to use it, and sometimes this doesn’t cover commercial use of the music.
  • Pay attention to the musical elements in a track: when you choose a musical piece consider if it has the right rhythm for your show (e.g. too fast can be distracting), if the instruments blend in with your content (e.g. sharp percussions can make the guest’s voice less understandable), and any other element that can hinder any aspect of your show. Music should support the text and not drive attention away from the content.
  • Use silence: listeners will appreciate moments of less stimulation. Silence allows the content to breathe and take a rest before embarking on another inspirational ride. Silence even helps accentuate moments that do have music making them even more valuable to the audience.
  • The right sound mix: once you have assembled your episode you should consider the sound features of your show. You should take into account the quality of the music recording (at least 128kbps, stereo recording, -16dB loudness level, etc.), having a correct fade in and fade out, and finding the right volume balance between the music and the voice(s) on your show.

Mindlessly inserting music into a podcast can do more harm than good so it’s imperative to keep these considerations at hand when you assemble your podcast show.


Music is a powerful tool to engage audiences in a variety of media including podcasting. At the 5th edition of this year’s Paris Podcast Festival, our team attended the lecture of Théo Boulenger (“Composer une musique originale”) and learned valuable tips on how to include this element in a podcast show. Music’s role can be more noticeable in some formats (e.g. fiction) than others but the message remains the same: music should be used strategically to get the most value out of it.

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